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pheidias project management corporation

suite 1660 – 1188 west georgia street, vancouver, british columbia v6e 4a2 canada t: 604-662-8833 f: 604-662-7958





January 17, 2003
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Chief Sophie Pierre Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council, Administrator Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council 7468 Mission Road Cranbrook, BC V1C 7E5 Re: Meeting with the Tribal Council


Dear Chief Sophie Pierre: In preparation for the meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 23, 2002 at 2:00pm at the Delta Hotel at St. Eugene, I am attaching a discussion paper that I hope to review with the Tribal Council and in the future, after our meeting explaining the project as it is being finalized with the Environmental Assessment Office. With kind regards, Pheidias Project Management Corporation


Oberto Oberti, MAIBC President




Mr. Thomas Munson KKTC Treaty Lands Coordinator Mr. Troy Hunter KKTC Community Organizer Mr. Dave Bjarnason International Union of Operating Engineers

1. The North American tourism perspective: North America is a huge continent comprising a population of more than 350 million people. Holidays in the past consisted to a great extent of trips by car to visit other parts of the continent or going to remote overseas locations. Florida, Arizona, southern California and Hawaii were in part the exception, becoming destinations for winter holidays. Colorado and a few other locations became destinations for skiing winter holidays. Summer holidays remained to a great extent motorcar explorations over the continent. This is in contrast with the European experience, a continent of over 350 million people, where since the mid 1800s the habit developed of taking holidays to fixed destinations and thousands of resorts developed as destination resorts. Today most Europeans take holidays to destinations resorts and they do this more in the summer than in winter. The argument can be made that this trend is beginning to emerge in North America as well, and that the average population is beginning to consider summer holidays and will be looking for destinations rather traveling vacations. Because of climate, latitude and geography (including elevations between 500 and 1800 meters that are ideal for resting the average human body), British Columbia is the only part of North America ideally suited for destinations that may offer recreation in the four seasons, and particularly in the summer. In addition, people will soon discover that mountain holidays in temperate latitudes and moderate elevations in summer combine health improvement with relaxation and sight seeing experiences. Unlike Colorado, where the average valley base (2500 meters) is higher than the top of Backcomb Mountain (2200 meters) at Whistler, British Columbia has all the attributes to become the host to North Americans. The only missing ingredients are the facilities for the average urban tourist, from resort bases to mountain access. This is the reason for the phenomenal success of Whistler, once it became established and started having adequate facilities, despite the original problems with its location and poor development, and its unfavorable climate for a good part of winter. We also noted that Whistler is already a destination of a particular kind, with an approved bed base of 52,500 beds, and a real bed base of approximately 80,000 beds for those who know Whistler. Whistler has also a resident population of about 7,500 people, making it a resident village larger than Golden. It is necessary to consider and to propose tourist destinations that will not have an urban character, but will be true tourist nests in the mountains. 2. The Swiss historical example: We touched on the fact that the Swiss were one of the poorest people in Europe, living near valleys where aboriginal people of the Alps had sustained themselves hunting and fishing since the earliest historical times. In earlier centuries the men of the people of the Alps had to go to neighboring nations earning a living as mercenary soldiers, and until two hundred years ago Switzerland was one of the poorest mountain farming and ranching communities in Europe. Then the British discovered travel and the beauty of the mountains and the Swiss became hosts to the European tourists who wanted to discover the Alps both for their beauty and for the health qualities of vacations and rest in the mountains. The Swiss became mountain guides and hoteliers. Tourism created the cash flow that allowed the Swiss to create other industries. Today Switzerland, despite its lack of raw materials, has become a leading industrial country, with preeminence in the world for companies ranging from watchmakers to pharmaceutical products. One could easily argue that for British Columbia the time has come to look at tourism as the industry of choice for the transition from reliance only on primary industry to the creation of the capital necessary to start secondary and tertiary industry.

But tourism as an industry requires sustainable facilities and infrastructure, which are not easy to do properly and in the right locations, and a friendly population that enjoys welcoming visitors. 3. The historical opportunity for First Nations: This is a unique time for First Nations to become the hosts to North Americans, and perhaps to the world, on their own original land. Never before there has been such an interest in aboriginal activities and history, and perhaps a desire by other peoples to correct the wrongs of the past. Tourism that combines native hospitality themes and interpretive activities would have something that would add appeal to the discovery of natural beauty, sporting activities and the health factor of the vacation in the mountains. In addition First Nations might be at a special historical junction in terms of public goodwill and financial opportunity, when they can seize a positive chance to finance their entry into the tourist industry that may never come again with the same clarity and strength. The Tribal Council is already moving in the direction of the tourist industry with the St. Eugene development and the Sushwaps have demonstrated their entrepreneurial capabilities with the Kinbasket Development Corporation and the Eagle Ranch golf course and development. The Kinbasket Development Corporation has gained development experience that would allow cooperation extending to many facets of the project. Similarly one could extend these ideas to the Ktunaxa Kinbasket group, who have been gaining a great deal of experience in the St. Eugene developments. These activities may be an historical beginning. They are made more difficult, however, because the beginning had to be located where the reserve lands were, not in prime tourist destination locations. Location is the most important ingredient for economic success, not just for the enjoyment of the visitors. On the other hand, First Nations when they are united currently have even more political power than they may realize, and if they use it wisely, they may find that this is the key to obtain access the best locations. These are locations that for historical reasons had never been considered for an opportunity to show the landscape to outsiders. 4. Jumbo Glacier is different and unique; it is a unique entry into tourism: The Jumbo Creek valley is unique because it had a sawmill and a mine that produced an existing road, in part already dedicated as a public highway, to the base of one of the most appropriate mountain settings for sightseeing and skiing year round. There is no other location and access in North America like that. Because of the location, within easy travel distance from Banff and the National Parks routes, and because of the year round skiing and the unique viewpoints from the top, perhaps surpassing even such scenic attractions as Lake Louise and the Victoria Glacier, the lifts would be able to operate year round at near capacity, as they do at the Jungfrau in Switzerland. The top of Glacier Dome and of Jumbo Mountain would become world destinations where people would go to have a mountain view like nowhere else (except by helicopter which is an experience limited to very few people) in North America. It would become a must visit from the National Parks (already people come in winter from Banff to heli-ski in the area, with buses coming every day from Banff). We have discussed the project many times with Dave Bjarnason of the International Union of Operating Engineers and he agrees that the employment would be so much more stable than in the other skiing destinations operating only in winter that it would be easy to run the project with union labour. This would allow to train a stable work force, and would facilitate a bigger opportunity for training programs and for aboriginal participation as part of the work force. The future joint venture or partnership in the project could include a form of cooperation and training involving both some of the union resources and capabilities and the First Nations.


The environmental studies: The environmental work has been thorough, has been on going since 1990 and is about complete to respond fully to the questions defined in the Project Specifications issued by the Environmental Assessment Office in 1998, after many years re-examining the issues. Work is still under way to come to a final conclusion both in terms of cumulative impact reports and of optimum access route improvements design and costing. The Project Report for the Environmental Assessment Office in response to the Project Specifications has been in preparation in the last years and with the concurrence of the responses from all Government agencies should be finally completely drafted this year. The project will soon be ready for an information campaign that will provide the answers that responsible people have been looking for. The project will not only be sustainable and opening a most desirable location, but it is being designed to be the best planned mountain resort on the continent. It will also be the only one with access to a major glacier from the top of the glaciers.


The possible roles of First Nations: The Jumbo Glacier Resort project concept has been primarily financed by foreign investors, starting with the initial Japanese client, Nikken Canada Holdings Ltd. It is a project that has accidentally generated the connections for the start of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort project. During the final planning phases of Kicking Horse the Dutch client Company, Ballast Nedam, asked me to find a local partner and after some research Grouse Mountain was introduced to Ballast Nedam and became the local partner. The thought that is currently being discussed is that the First Nations could become the local partner for Glacier Resorts L. P., the proponent of the Jumbo Glacier Resort project. Perhaps the First Nations do not have the experience that Grouse Mountain contributed to Kicking Horse, but they have certainly gained experience, and what they may not be able to contribute in experience they may bring to the project in terms of goodwill and world wide public appeal, created by tourism with a native theme and historical interpretive connotation. The Directors of Glacier Resorts Ltd. have excellent mountain development experience and would form a good team with the local tourism orientated population, both native and non native, and could provide the management experience that is necessary in these projects. The form of the partnership is open and may range from a participation in the whole project as part of the Glacier Resorts Limited Partnership, the legal owner of the project, to specific joint ventures for project components, be it lift operations or one of the initial hotels or residential components to be brought into the project rental pool and to be substantially owned and operated by the aboriginal joint venture partner. We are currently discussing with the Sushwaps a joint venture development at the beginning of the project. This particular joint venture would be a small lodge that may be the centre piece of the initial development phase. It would establish the hospitality theme of the first hotel facility with an aboriginal feeling and interpretive theme, and it would be a first step toward aboriginal hospitality in the mountains. It would do this in a subtle way that would not be in conflict with the comforts of today's tourism, but that would remind people that they are in a region where for many centuries ancient peoples existed. The size of the first lodge will be relatively small, perhaps fifty to eighty rooms with capability to expand. It will be designed to have a positive interface with the heli-ski operations by R.K. Heli-ski, and if the First Nations were able to convince it, the lodge could be offering hospitality both to heliskiers and non-heli-skiers. The advantage of this project again would be its unique location that would make it a sight seeing destination like no other in North America.

The form of the partnership in the lodge would depend on the success of the financing program. If we were able to obtain funding from sources such as the Business Development Bank for the First Nation's project, or from any other Government or private source independent from our clients, the First Nations could have majority ownership of the Lodge and use it as a first step to become co-developers in the project. If funding had to be advanced in the majority by our clients, then the First Nations could be operators and partners for a smaller percentage of ownership. Finally, there are ample opportunities to work on the development of interpretive themes and facilities that would add a welcome historical dimension to the project. This could be enhanced by a First Nations presence as the environmental stewards of the project, maintaining a monitoring presence in the facility originally proposed to review the long term sustainability and environmental performance of the project. As progress will be made in these discussions, firm agreements should be developed confirming the opportunities and the roles of each party.